Ok, so we’ve done a look back of 2016 in our last podcast episode, however, in keeping with the annual tradition we’re going to put down our thoughts in writing. You can find the details on the podcast episode here
Best Irish Keg Beer
W – For me, best Irish Keg beer this year was Yellowbelly – Citra Pale Ale absolutely brilliant in its simplicity plus combined with my favourite hop. Notable Mentions to Galway Bay Hexed & I Love NE, 8 Degrees Mandarina Bavaria, Whiplash Rollover
J – Bonita by O’Brother Brewing, absolutely loved it, and got to pour my own glass of it at the RDS Beer Fest in September.
Best Irish Cask Beer
W – Not had a huge amount of cask beer this year from Irish Brewers, however I did have a couple of pints of O’Brother – The Sinner recently in Porterhouse Central, and it was pouring in great form.
J – Not a huge amount of cask for me either, but do remember enjoying Brehon Rising by Brehon at a tap takeover in 57 The Headline, and also a notable mention to Galway Bay – Diving Bell which has matured beautifully.
Best Bottled / Canned Irish Beer
W – For me, absolutely best was Whiplash – Rollover in cans it sings, it’s older brother Surrender to the Void was equally immense. Notable mention to Francis Big Banging IPA by McGargles in cans also, but Rollover wins for pure sessionability. Bottle wise, The Crafty Brewing Company IPA & Pale Wheat Ale both really stood out.
J – Best can for me, as well as the above, was the cans of HiViz by Blacks Brewery which was great. Bottle wise, we had lots of great bottles by 8 Degrees thoughout the year, but I really enjoyed the Fearless Farmhouse Ale with notable mention to White Hag – Berry Hibiscus Puca
Best Overseas Draught Beer
W – Having travelled quite a bit throughout the year there are numerous beers we tried and enjoyed over the year, for me, there were some great beers coming out of the UK, I really enjoyed Northern Monk – Double Heathen at Indyman, with notable mentions for Brewdog Abstrakt 20 and Kernel – London Sour Damson. Also enjoying Axe Edge in Buxton Taphouse was a treat
J – Really enjoyed the Brew By No – 24/03 at Indyman and when I was in Rotterdam the Imperial Red IPA by Kaapse stood out amongst all the beers from the year.
Best Overseas Canned / Bottled Beer
W – So many good beers, especially thanks to our friends in the UK and beyond, but one that stands out for me over the year is Firestone Walker Parabajava 2015, a cracker. Also really enjoyed St Lupullin by Odells
J – One that stood out for me was Alesmith – Speedway Stout that a friend brought us back from San Diego, notable mentions for Kees – Caramel Fudge Stout, Fourpure – Juicebox and Northern Monk Strannik.
Best Overall Beer
W – For me, it’s beauty is it’s simplicity, a straightforward malt bill, and citra hops, this years beer of the year for me is Yellowbelly – Citra Pale Ale
J – It shouldn’t surprise anyone, but for me again Bonita by O’Brother was cracking, with notable mention to Crafty Brewing Company – Pale Wheat Ale.
Best Branding / Pump Clip
W – It would be impossible to look beyond Yellowbelly who have created a universe around their hero and they stand out a mile on the shelf, or at the taps. However I do also love the sleek modern branding of the Whiplash range very tastefully done.
J – I agree with Wayne’s, but my favourite Branding is by O’Brother & Eight Degrees
Best Pub / Bar of the Year
W & J – For us, it’s got to be 57 The Headline, great food, great choice of not only beers, but also Gins and Whiskey. Plus they hosted without doubt the best Tap Takeover this year which featured Yellowbelly. Notable mention to our old favourite Brewdock where we had our festive pints this year, and the lads at P.Macs who have been ploughing away there really well.
New Pub / Bar Opening
W & J – In Dublin, we’ve had the opening of Bar Rua on Clarendon St. The lads in Carrig Brewing own this bar, and have transformed it from it’s previous life into a lovely bar with a nice range of draught and bottled beers. With matching food to match. In our locality we are delighted to welcome Brú House Navan. While there is a good range of beer on tap at the moment I would like to see a little more diversity there and in the bottle fridges. But as it’s only open, this should develop over the next while.
Independent Retailer of the year
W&J – Given it’s so local, it can only be The Winehouse in Trim, it’s where we’ve picked up so many of our beers this year. Notable mentions to Molloys in Clonsilla, and to Stephen’s Street News. Haven’t gotten to Drinkstore, or Baggot St Wines as much this year but they’re still good at what they do.
Beer Festival of the Year
W&J – From the Irish representatives, we’d the most fun at the Killarney Beer Fest it was a much more relaxed affair than the big one at the RDS but takes place in one of the nicest parts of the country. Alltech Brews was also a great event, in a great location too. For choice and range of beers alone though for us, Indyman remains up there as the best of the year for a foreign beer festival.
Best Beer Blog
W – There are a few blogs out there I enjoy reading, I’m a big fan of The Beer Nut, he’s set the standard for so long in Ireland. But the one i’ve enjoyed reading the most this year is Matt Chinnery’s The Half Pint Gentleman well done mate.
J – I’m a big fan of John (The Beer Nut) also, but also really enjoy reading Hopinions’ Martin Oates Beer is the Answer and our favourite Geordie Myles Lambert Drinking got me thinking blog
Best Beer Twitterer
W – Can I say me? Ha, only kidding, there are so many to choose from. I really enjoy John’s company having a pint or three, and his dry sense of humour really translates well to twitter. Therefore for me, it’s The Beer Nut
J – Personally I enjoy the banter and interaction with John Coote, who gave us loads of advice as we transitioned the blog to WordPress. Also Notable mention to Martin and Steve from Hopinions .
Best Irish Brewery 2016
W – Like trying to pick a favourite child, but thats the job isn’t it. In terms of scale and range of so many different beers, and brands, Rye River Brewing through their McGargles beers, and have been punching above their weight with the Crafty Brewing Company Brand for Lidl Ireland, and Grafters for Dunne’s Stores. Or the sheer inventiveness of Yellowbelly of Wexford. For me, it is just, and I mean this, just, Yellowbelly as they’ve done a load of different styles, and are having loads of fun doing it.
J – I gauge this on who i make a beeline for at festivals, and for me, it’s O’Brother Brewing who have been consistently ticking away while bringing out new beers. I must also say 8 Degrees have been doing great things with their IPAs, and have truly cemented their reputation as a great brewery doing interesting things, but also the basics right too.
That being said, 2016 has been a great year for the Irish Beer Scene, from what we’ve seen the standard and quality of beer being produced is ever increasing. We’re also seeing lots of new styles being brought in and done. There are so many brewers we would love to have included in this list, but that’s just based on the year for us. We look forward to where 2017 will bring us.